For our Early Childhood Success guest, we asked Misty Hollis, Executive Director of the Richmond Family YMCA, to talk about the state of childcare in Wayne County.

Wayne County business leaders seem to constantly discuss the need for child care. While conversations reflect this need, more importantly, studies and surveys confirm that child care is needed in Wayne County and state-wide. 

According to the State of Indiana FSSA, “in most Indiana communities, the demand for early care outweighs the supply.  Approximately, four out of 10 children live in a child care desert.”  A child care desert is a name for an area that has none or limited child care facilities.

In 2022, the Richmond Family YMCA Board of Directors commissioned a Market Study for strategic planning purposes. Personal donations and a grant from the Wayne County Foundation helped finance the Market Study. The number one need reflected in the report was the need for early learning child care.

Out of the 600 people interviewed, the study showed there were close to 200 children needing services of an early learning center.  The market study covered Union County and Wayne County.  The study reflected that the largest need was the west side of Richmond and Union County.


Providers face the challenge of a long approval process with newly hired employees..  On average, it can take 2 weeks to receive the final approval for an employee to begin working in a licensed center with children.

Other challenges are based on how to keep the cost low for families and pay our staff a livable wage. Every child care provider desires to help families and their staff. The challenge is what is the best approach. 

Next Steps

Local early learning facilities are continuing to look at ways to respond to the need.  To name just a few of the expanded services:

  • Oak Park Early Learning continues to expand their services,
  • All God’s Children expanded into a new location,
  • Central United Methodist is opening a preschool program in August, and
  • YMCA opening a new early learning center in the Fall 2024.

The YMCA began planning a long-term approach on responding to this need.  A partnership was formed with Northeastern School Corporation.  We began offering after school care to the PreK students and school age students in the 2022-24 school year.

With the assistance of the Wayne County HELP funding, we are pleased to share that a new Early Learning Center will be opening in the Fall of 2024.  We will be serving infants to age 4 at the new west side location.

Moving Forward

Once we all acknowledge that providing reliable child care is an economic development issue, then the better we can address some of the opportunities or challenges.  Employees need to be able to focus on working and providing for their families.  Ensuring child care is available will ease the minds of families and create a safe place for young children to learn and grow.

Any provider I have met cares deeply for the children and families they serve.  Several of the providers communicate regularly with one another and strive to refer families to each other.  Each provider works to meet the needs to the best of their ability and make a difference in the lives of children.

Wayne County, let’s continue to work through the needs and address them for the benefit of our workforce development’s future.

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